Nikon Film SLR Models -- Nikon FE vs Nikon FM

Nikon FE vs Nikon FM

Nikon FE vs FM Film SLR Models (I don't know why I put FM2 while I was editing this photo)
Nikon FE vs FM Film SLR Models (I don't know why I put FM2 while I was editing this photo)

I got my film SLR mid-2006 with the pseudo-infamous story I've likened to Harry Potter's search for a wand where the camera chose me instead of me choosing it. It's quite fitting, I thought, since my name is Harry and all.

The first thing I thought, of course, would be to figure out what model of film SLR I got and figured I should go Google it or something. I'm not really sure what keywords I used, not being knowledgeable about search engine optimization at the time, but it's probably along the lines of "nikon film slr models" or "old nikon film slrs". And so in a few seconds from finding the film SLR (or, as I have said, the camera finding me), I was browsing through a bunch of film SLR models made by Nikon.

As you can see in the photo above, both the FE and the FM models (I don't know why I put FM2, the FM2 has a black engraving of "FM2" in front sorry about that) look almost exactly the same. And so until only last year, if I remember correctly, I've always assumed that my film SLR was the Nikon FM. There's really not much difference when it comes to its materials, both having almost identical designs and copper-aluminum alloy bodies but when it comes to the inside, the FE and FM2 are very different.

Hidalgo, Quiapo, Philippines

There's this place in Quiapo, popular for cheap photography equipment called Hidalgo, and supposedly this is the only place where you can have a film SLR fixed. Most film SLRs that haven't been used in a long time would need what they call "CLA" or clean, lubricate, and adjust. Since most film SLRs are analog, that's all you'll ever need and you're camera will be ready to be used in no time. One of the worst things that could happen would be having a broken light meter (this is the case for me and worse as you'll soon discover), which means you can still use your camera anyway only you won't have that guide that will tell you if your shot is under or overexposed. This turned out to be a good thing for me because it helped me have an instinct on what shutter speed and aperture combinations to use based only on gut feel and estimates using my eyes.

I was able to use it lots of times after having it fixed. I was really excited and got to use a lot of rolls of films, experimenting with random stuff. Then in just a few weeks/months, the camera will refuse to work again. Soon I'd realize that I'd have to go back and forth to Hidalgo to have it fixed just for it to be broken again. The costs of traveling and having it fixed was becoming too much. And not to mention that film photography, in general, is such an expensive hobby with costs of developing, printing, and/or having the film digitized.

That's when I asked the guy who fixes my camera what was wrong with my Nikon FM (thinking at the time that it was an FM. That's when he tells me that my camera is not a Nikon FM but a Nikon FE SLR model.

He then explained further on how the FE is somewhat a bit electronic as compared to the FM that was fully mechanical. Thus, it was easier to get the FM fixed because it was fully analog as compared to my FE that had a bit of electronics inside it. And so there's a good chance that my camera will always be like this; that there can always be treatments but never a cure.

Nikon FE

So, of course, I absolutely miss using film but the costs are too high if I have to have it fixed all the time. And so I actually contemplated selling the FE then buying an FM or any other Nikon film SLR model just so I can still use the Nikkon 50mm 1.4 prime lens that came with the FE.

But, you know, that's just an idea. It's really hard to let go of something as valuable as my first camera. We've had so many memories together. What do you think I should do?

You vote on what I'll do with my Nikon FE

What should I do with the Nikon FE?

  • Sell it and get a new body! Sentimental value is imaginary!
  • Keep it then save up for a new body. You'll regret selling your first ever camera!
See results without voting

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